My first music festival was Earthdance California in the summer of 2008. It was an eye-opening experience, revealing to me a whole culture that I was barely aware of. This dreamlike village of co-creation and interactivity enchanted me. I felt at ease in this environment where people embraced their oddities and learned to channel them in creative ways. Ever since, I have been on the lookout for festivals that require stepping outside my boundaries, that teach me something new about the world and myself.
This past February my quest brought me 3,000 miles from my home to a part of the world I had never visited before, and may not have otherwise. Envision 2014 was held at Rancho La Merced in a town called Uvita in the southern region of Costa Rica. The venue was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to; on the grounds, dense jungle foliage and wildlife surrounded us. Just a short walk away was the beach with panoramic views and reflective warm waters. Every evening hundreds of us gathered for a breathtakingly unique sunset, some playing an impromptu jam session, some dancing, some surfing. This festival came together through collaboration of so many skilled people.
Envision contained all the right ingredients for transformational event and exceeded my expectations. Everything was thoughtfully and beautifully constructed. Multicultural food vendors, able to satisfy any dietary need, packed the Village area. Tribe 13 erected a spectacular gallery of visionary artists. Wide stages accommodated live performers including dancers, fire spinners, aerialists and mimes. The festival made big eco-conscious efforts such as prohibiting single use utensils and water bottles and providing ways to separate our recycling and compost from trash.
You could tell how dedicated every member of the crew was to making Envision a next level event. Everyone seemed in great spirits and took the small bumps in stride. While I loved the getaway to the sweaty, tropical weather, the build crew especially deserves credit for their work. Laboring in those conditions is a serious act of love.
We spent the days cooling off at one of the local waterfalls or playing in the warm waves of the ocean. At night the festival came alive with its international lineup packed with talent. The stages graced our ears with jam bands, future bass, and beat-boxing puppets. The Luna stage was an intricately crafted altar in the shape of a dragon’s head with projection mapping canvas for the wings and eyes. Stacks of Funktion-Ones towered on each side of the stage serenading us the with purest frequencies of bass. Every act I saw brought their A-game. Old standbys such as The Polish Ambassador, Mr. Rogers, and Whitebear played some of their best sets I’ve seen. I caught sets from several acts I had wanted to see including Soul Vision, Soulacybin, Pumpkin, Merkaba, Cualli and Plantrae. I also discovered two new names I highly recomend, The Funk Hunters and Cat’s Pajama’s.Tipper graced us with two fantastic sets. His downtempo set on Monday morning was a perfect closing to the weekend.
The team also put a lot of focus on making sure their attendees were kept safe and healthy. In addition to all the sonic healers, a Healing Sanctuary offered a standard med tent as well as other alternatives. One area included tables with licensed massage therapists and chiropractors. The Zendo Project, who specialize in psychedelic harm reduction also had a space here. Another booth offered blue clay treatments which could be helpful for all sorts of things from sunburns to cuts and acted as a natural sunblock. Perhaps most importantly they provided free drinking water, constant hydration was crucial!
Attending Envision provided me with so many new experiences. I had the fortune to explore the country for two weeks after the festival. So many of the people I met were friendly and helpful despite my ignorance of their language and customs. Every part of the country that we visited was alive with botanical life. At night, the sound of bugs droned relaxing sounds, perfect for falling asleep. I highly recommend Envision to all adventurous spirits and lovers of forward thinking music. This festival has done a lot in the four years since their inception and I’m excited to see what comes from future.